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Ken Bernhard: Syrian Crisis Is Of “Biblical Proportions”

In the wake of the Paris terror attacks, more than 30 governors have said their states will not accept Syrian refugees.

Connecticut’s Democratic governor, on the other hand, personally welcomed a family diverted from Indianapolis to New Haven.

A former Republican legislator from Westport thinks that’s great.

Ken Bernhard

Ken Bernhard

Ken Bernhard is not just reacting to the news of the day. He’s been concerned with refugees’ plights  since the crisis began several years ago. A noted attorney, he helped found The Syria Fund. That 501(c)(3) provides education, medical supplies, household goods and food to families living in dire, desperate areas underserved by large, mainstream organizations.

Bernhard’s humanitarian efforts began at a typical suburban setting: a cocktail party. A woman who’d studied in Syria told him about the refugee crisis brewing in the Mideast.

Bernhard had taught under a UNESCO program in Jordan. He recalled the “lovely, hospitable, generous people” he’d met, and vowed to help.

The refugees who began fleeing Syria nearly a year ago are primarily middle class, he says. Rich and poor Syrians left a long time ago; store owners and professionals thought they’d be able to “hunker down.” Now they’re leaving their embattled land with only what they can carry. Up to 80,000 are jammed into temporary camps.

Syria Fund logoWestporters have reacted “very generously” to his pleas for help through the Syria Fund, Bernhard says.

The former elected official — he’s been Westport’s 3rd selectman and served 4 terms in the Connecticut General Assembly, including a stint as assistant minority leader — is wary of politicians who “advocate simple solutions to complex situations.”

The US has been actively involved in the Middle East for 70 years, he notes. Our actions — like supporting the Shah of Iran and Saddam Hussein (“until we turned against him”) — have helped sow the seeds of the current dangerous problems.

“I don’t think we can turn a blind eye to the humanitarian crisis that’s partly the result of our own actions,” Bernhard says. “We’ve had the advantage of an ocean between here and there. Now we’ve got a choice with these refugees: step up or not.”

He is not naive about the need for security. But, he insists, “the process to get here is so arduous. These are people who have been seeking sanctuary for years. In 2 trips over there, I’ve never seen people hostile to the US.”

He adds, “what are these millions of people fleeing Syria supposed to do? If we don’t help, the problem will migrate. We’ll have to deal with it somewhere else.”

Many current Syrian refugees are middle class, Ken Bernhard says.

Many current Syrian refugees are middle class, Ken Bernhard says.

Bernhard calls the conditions in the migrants’ camps appalling. Families sit idle in the hot (and cold) desert. Children grow up there knowing no other life. “If we don’t educate them, and give them employment and prospects for hope, these are the young men who will turn to ISIS,” he says.

He is proud of what The Syria Fund has accomplished — with help from his fellow Westporters. As long as refugees need aid, he’ll continue raising funds.

“This is America. This is Westport,” Bernhard says. “It’s a mass migration — a crisis of biblical proportions. We’re witnesses to it. We all have an obligation to step up and do something about it.”

(To learn more about The Syria Fund, including how to contribute, click here.)


Westport’s Most Beautiful Pond

Saugatuck. Compo Beach. Longshore.

You hear “Westport,” and those come to mind.

But Sherwood Mill Pond — the 84-acre tidal estuary and verdant salt marsh stretching from I-95 to the Long Island Sound — is just as important and historic as any of those better-known spots.

And its beauty rivals any place around.

Sherwood Mill Pond (Photo/Ellen van Dorsten)

Sherwood Mill Pond (Photo/Ellen van Dorsten)

The Pond’s impact dates to 1705. As the 1st working grist mill — powered by tidal shifts — it provided the commerce required to be chartered.

The original grist mill. It -- and several others that followed -- burned to the ground.

An early grist mill. It — and several others — burned to the ground.

For ages, the Mill Pond supported a thriving oyster and clam trade. “Captain Allen” was an original supplier to Grand Central’s Oyster Bar. He later opened Allen’s Clam House, a beloved landmark, on the pond’s Hillspoint Road shore.

The pond nearly died in the late 20th century. But it roared back to life — along with more than 70 species of birds and aquatic life that call it home.

A couple dozen homes front the Mill Pond, across from Old Mill Beach. Others face Long Island Sound on Compo Cove, accessible by foot over a pair of wooden bridges.

Homes along Sherwood Mill Pond. (Photo/Betsy Phillips Kahn)

Homes along Sherwood Mill Pond. (Photo/Betsy Phillips Kahn)

Homes were first built in the 1920, on lots selling for $200. Today they’re among the most coveted — and unique — residences in town.

That history — commercial, environmental and personal — is now told in a gorgeous book. Westport author, artist and teacher Judith Orseck Katz has created “The Beautiful Pond,” a stunning watercolor and text tribute to this special place.

The pages take readers through the pond’s transformation from a working mill, to a beloved and bucolic sanctuary for coastal life of all types (including human).

Beautiful Pond cover

And — in keeping with the important environmental theme — Katz and the book’s sponsor, Mill Pond resident Robin Tauck, are partnering with Sound Waters. All proceeds fund the organization’s academic enrichment programs for low-income students, via SoundWaters’ STEM Academy.

Katz has weaved together history, environment and personal memories, creating a wonderful book. Her drawings and words range from cormorants and seagrass to the Sherwood family and Allen Raymond; from tidal gates and hurricanes to the Coleys and Northrops.

The Sherwood Mill Pond covers more area than we imagine -- and its contours are more irregular than we think.

Sherwood Mill Pond covers 84 acres, from I-95 to Old Mill Beach.

Many Westporters — some of them longtime residents — know nothing about the Mill Pond. Driving past on Hillspoint or I-95, they never even notice it.

Plenty of others — including those who swam long ago in its clear waters, and finally can do so once again — are awed by its beauty, serenity, and historic grace.

This book is for all of them.

(“The Beautiful Pond” is available soon at Barnes & Noble and Earthplace. To pre-order in hard cover ($45) or soft cover ($25), click here. All proceeds benefit SoundWaters.)

Sherwood Mill Pond is lovely in all seasons. (Photo/Kendall Anderson)

Sherwood Mill Pond is lovely in all seasons. (Photo/Kendall Anderson)

Tooting Tophat’s Horn

Back in the day, being tutored was a mark of shame.

Now, Staples students talk about “my tutor” as casually as they once said “my dog,” or the Knack sang “My Sharona.”

Some of those tutors charge stratospheric rates. Others are closer to earth, but still up there.

Then there’s Tophat Tutors.

Tophat Tutors logoThe 3-year-old outfit is not only aimed at students — it’s run by them. The result is a different kind of tutoring. And different rates.

Tophat was the brainchild of then-Staples senior Charlie Jersey. He and a couple of friends began tutoring classmates, and younger students.

When he graduated — he’s now at Williams College — Charlie sold the fledgling business to Nick Massoud, for $1. Nick — now at Yale — expanded the number of tutors, and added a website (

Last spring, Nick sold Tophat for the now-traditional $1 to Vig Namasivayam. He’s one of those very busy seniors — president of both Staples Players and the National Honor Society, among other activities — but along with Tophat vice president Simon Ginsberg, he’s expanded the company even more.

Tophat tutors — who must be at least high school juniors — offer one-on-one services in math, biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, writing, history, government, economics, Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, Chinese and more.

Vig Namasivayan

Vig Namasivayam (Photo/Kerry Long)

Vig chooses his staff carefully. They must be knowledgeable in their subject areas (duh), but able to connect with peers and younger students too. They must also be good role models.

Last spring, Vig met with all 27 tutors. He described his own tutoring style, and stressed the importance of patience and professionalism.

Like many higher-priced tutors, Tophat sessions take place in students’ homes, the library, or Barnes & Noble. Unlike the others, Tophat charges just $40 an hour.

As president, Vig faces challenges other tutoring services do not. “A lot of seniors are busy with college stuff,” he says. “I’ve got to make sure they have time to do this, and do it right.”

He takes care to match students with appropriate tutors. One parent may request a “sweet, nurturing girl” for her child. Another asks for a “straightforward guy.”

Feedback has been excellent. Parents are pleased that a peer is helping their child. They’re also pleased not to shell out $700 an hour* for the service.

Tophat Tutors at work.

Tophat Tutors at work. 

As for Vig, he loves his job. “When a kid gets an A on a test, I’m happy too,” he says. He also enjoys the process of organizing and matching his tutors, and expanding the business. (Tophat is moving into Weston.)

Vig is not yet sure who he’ll sell Tophat Tutors to, a few months from now. But he promises the price will be $1.

That’s low — just like his tutors’ prices.

The quality, though, is sky-high.

(For more information, click here; email, or call 203-912-1645.)

*The high end, believe it or not

108 Cross Highway: Preserving History, Preventing A Teardown

In June 2011, 108 Cross Highway came on the market. From all indications, it would be the next Westport teardown.

An uproar ensued. The 2-story “vernacular” — with a barn — on the well-traveled stretch between Roseville Road and North Avenue was built in 1805. Records indicated it was one of the few Westport dwellings constructed by a “free black man.”

(That assertion was later challenged. The “Henry Munroe House” may, in fact, have been built by an Indian.)

108 Cross Highway

108 Cross Highway in 2011.

The usual Westport battle raged. On one side were those decrying the destruction of a handsome old home — one with historic significance.

On the other side were those who say that property owners are free to do whatever they want. After all, it’s their money.

The house was taken off the market, rented, then put back on. Jeff Porter and Rachel Ember had been thinking of contemporaries. But when realtor Amy Swanson showed them 108 Cross Highway, they fell in love.

They closed on the property in January 2014.

Nearly 2 years later, the house still stands. The new owners have redone the porch, repaired the chimney, added a paddock fence, restored and refinished the original wood floors, and remodeled the side entry and kitchen in a style appropriate to the home (sourcing reclaimed barn wood).

They also repaired the barn’s rotted siding, and reconfigured the garage doors in a more traditional carriage style.

Today, 108 Cross Highway looks better than ever.

Rear view of 108 Cross Highway, showing a new fence, walkway and covered porch.

Rear view of 108 Cross Highway, showing a new fence, walkway and covered porch.

In fact, it’s one of this year’s recipients of a Preservation Award from the Westport Historic District Commission.

The barn and pool.

The barn and pool.

Too often in Westport, structures like these fall victim to the wrecking ball. We close our eyes, wring our hands, and move on.

The next time you pass 108 Cross Highway, open your eyes wide. Put your hands together, and linger awhile. It’s a wonderful sight to see.

108 Cross Highway, today.

108 Cross Highway, today.

The kitchen, with reclaimed barn wood flooring.

The kitchen, with reclaimed barn wood flooring.

(The 2015 Historic Preservation Awards will be presented by 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Historic District Commission chair Francis Henkels and commission members on Monday, October 26, 7 p.m. in the Town Hall auditorium.)


Casey Dohme’s Blind Rhino

At Staples High School, Casey Dohme earned fame as a baseball player. He played at Franklin & Marshall College too, where he majored in religious studies and government.

But during college he got a job at Bobby Q’s. He had fun, earned good money, and caught the restaurant bug.

Casey Dohme

Casey Dohme

Two summers later, former Bobby Q’s manager Mike Dobbs hired Casey at his new spot: The Ginger Man, in South Norwalk. Casey quickly moved up the ranks, from busboy to general manager. A couple of years ago he headed to Stamford, to open up a Ginger Man there.

He liked the small chain’s emphasis on craft beers. He helped organize beer dinners, beer events and beer education series. He loved finding new local breweries.

One day, he hoped, he’d come up with his own concept and project.

That day has arrived. Working with a pair of former Ginger Men — aspiring brewer Matt Bacco and chef Jamie Pantanella — he’s taken over SoNo’s old Bradford’s sports bar, on North Main Street.

They’ve cleaned up the woodwork, installed a big 10-foot tap from a Norwalk boatyard, installed 27 TVs, and designed a food and beverage menu that kicks the former place up a few notches.

There will be the typical sports bar wings and things, but also some surprises:  a shrimp po-boy, ribeye cheese steak, sweet potato hummus and more.

Casey’s father — a longtime Westport builder, specializing in restorations — has added his expertise.

The result is the Blind Rhino. A soft opening is planned for tonight (Thursday, October 15), with the doors open to the public tomorrow.

Casey’s new place will also prove “you can have good wine in a sports bar.”

Blind Rhino logo

I asked about the differences between the dining scenes in South Norwalk, and in his hometown.

He likes both places. Westport, Casey says, now has a real “dining scene.” But SoNo is  a “destination spot,” with restaurants near each other and an energetic vibe.

“It’s all good for Fairfield County,” Casey says.

And for anyone looking for a new place to watch sports, enjoy a creative menu and drink craft beer.


DOT Has The Answer To Our Transportation Woes!

Every so often — like cicadas, and Bushes running for president — someone floats this idea: Widen our highways.

This time, the Connecticut Post reports, the plan comes courtesy of the state Department of Transportation. Adding lanes to I-95 — all the way from Greenwich to Stonington — as well as I-84, would “produce economic benefits of nearly $40 billion — more than 3 times the cost of both projects combined.”

According to Governor Malloy, most sectors of the state’s economy — especially manufacturing, retail and tourism — would benefit.

A familiar Connecticut scene.

A familiar Connecticut scene.


The story notes:

Adding a lane in each direction on I-95 across southern Connecticut will produce $15.5 billion in new business sales, add $9 billion to Connecticut’s gross state product, and add $6.3 billion in new wage income to workers. The widening itself will cost $10.7 billion and support between 11,000 and 19,000 construction jobs over a 10-year ramp-up construction period….

“These numbers prove widening our interstates is the smart thing to do and demonstrate what we’d be losing if we don’t do it, in terms of our economy, jobs, and productivity,” James P. Redeker, commissioner of the transportation department, said. “We really can’t afford to wait.”

Sounds great!

I just have 2 questions:

  • Given the glacial pace of the Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge construction project, would it really take just 10 years to “ramp-up”?
  • And, um, where exactly would we get this land in Westport to add a lane on each side?

(Hat tip: Billy Nistico)

The Pawnbroker Returns

“The Pawnbroker” — the 1961 novel about  a concentration camp survivor who suffers flashbacks while operating a pawn shop in East Harlem — is an American classic.

It gets new life next month, when a new edition is published.

The PawnbrokerAuthor Edward Lewis Wallant will be once again thrust into the spotlight. He was part of a stellar roster of postwar authors — with Henry Roth, Bernard Malamud, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, J.D. Salinger and John Updike — but died of an aneurysm a year after “The Pawnbroker” was first published. He was just 36 years old.

Wallant had strong ties to Westport. He and his wife Joyce lived in Norwalk, but were immersed in the arts scene here.

They were friends with local artists and writers like Russell and Lillian Hoban, Larry Hill, Harvey Weiss, Stanley Bleifeld and Dan Wickenden.

Joyce later married Richard Malkin. They lived in Weston and Westport from 1965 on. Wallant’s 3 children — Scott, Leslie and Kim — attended schools in the 2 towns. Joyce was very involved in the Westport community.

Leslie Wallant

Leslie Wallant

Leslie Wallant’s love for literature was nurtured in both her family and the local schools. She’s written poetry and ad copy, and written and illustrated children’s books.

Her newest venture is a fantasy city based on the Periodic Table. It centers on the website, and blossoms into full novel fantasy adventures. Leslie is extending the fantasy with more books, a board game, figurines, trading cards, an app, video, and school workshops.

Her father would not recognize the world she lives in now. But he would be very, very proud.

Here She Comes … Penny Pearlman!

On Sunday night, the current Miss America — Kira Kazantsev of New York — passes her crown to a new  woman who (in the words of the pageant’s founder) “represents the highest ideals. She is a real combination of beauty, grace, and intelligence, artistic and refined.”

Media hype? Epitome of misplaced values? Dusty relic?

Penny Pearlman does not think so.

The Westport resident believes that women need a lot more than a great body and nice smile to be named Miss America.

Pearlman says contest winners are not just pretty. They’re also pretty smart,

Also passionate, insightful and eloquent.

Those are not just her thoughts. She spent several months traveling across the country. She interviewed 22 former Miss Americas.

Pretty Smart bookNow — on the eve of the 95th annual pageant — is a great time to talk about a book she wrote after all that. Pretty Smart: Lessons From Our Miss Americas portrays these women as beautiful and intelligent enough to win — and smart enough to make the most those victories.

Pearlman is not a veteran writer. She worked for many years in healthcare, including consulting and as a vice president at Bridgeport Hospital.

She also earned an MBA from Wharton, and has a master’s in art therapy.

“Every 5 years I get restless,” she says. “I always have to do something different.”

As a consultant, she thought about the qualities of successful people. She realized that Miss America winners exemplified all those traits.

Pearlman had not watched the pageant since she was a child, back in the 1950s and ’60s. She hadn’t really thought about it, either.

Penny Pearlman

Penny Pearlman

But the idea of Miss Americas as successful women stuck with her. She decided to write a book about them, then signed on with the Westport Writers’ Workshop to hone her skills.

Still, she was a nobody. When she asked former winners to chat, no one responded.

So Pearlman did what resourceful people (like Miss Americas) do: She tried a different approach.

In January 2007, she flew to Las Vegas. (That’s where the pageant relocated for a few years — with a different date — in an unsuccessful attempt to shed its Atlantic City baggage.)

She waited in a theater lobby for former Miss Americas to appear, after a preliminary event. Several agreed to talk.

Two weeks later, Pearlman was in Louisville with 2000 winner Heather French. They had a great conversation.

That opened the door to other interviews. Over the next 8 months, Pearlman met 22 Miss Americas. They included big names, like  Lee Meriwether (1955) and Mary Ann Mobley (1959). (Arguably the most famous of all — Bess Myerson — was too ill to talk.)

After winning the Miss America title, Phyllis George became a businesswoman, actress and sportscaster. She was also First Lady of Kentucky.

After winning the Miss America title, Phyllis George became a businesswoman, actress and sportscaster. She was also First Lady of Kentucky.

The conversations were wide-ranging, insightful and fun. Phyllis George (1971) took Pearlman to the Carlyle in New York. Judy Collins recognized George, and came over to chat. George ended up writing the forward to Pearlman’s book.

The interviews convinced the author that her premise was right.

“All the women have different personalities, and different looks,” Pearlman says. “But they all had a dream, and the drive to achieve it.”

Miss Americas went to schools like Harvard and Stanford. Several earned graduate degrees, even Ph.D.s.

“They are intelligent, articulate women,” Pearlman notes. “But they don’t sit on their laurels. All of them saw Miss America as a platform to jump off, and do bigger things.”

In 1989 the pageant added a social cause component. This is not window dressing. Pearlman says that winners have embraced — passionately and personally — causes like drunk driving, literacy and AIDS awareness.

She also sees the Miss America contest as feminist. “Long before Betty Friedan, it’s emphasized college, and the achievements of women,” Pearlman insists.

Pretty Smart focuses on Miss Americas. But, Pearlman says, “it’s really about how to be a winner in any field. And how to inspire people to follow their dreams.”

Pretty smart on her part, too.

(Penny Pearlman speaks about her book at 6:30 p.m. tonight [Thursday, September 10] at the Westport Historical Society. Two former Miss Connecticuts will be there too. There is a $10 donation, and reservations are required; call 203-222-1424. Click here for more information.)

(Hat tip: Prill Boyle)

Miss America logo


Gigantic Gilbertie Family Gathers

In 1890, brothers Antonio and Alesandro Gilbertie immigrated with their families from Italy to Brooklyn.

Through friends and relatives they learned of a small Connecticut community called Saugatuck. Italians were moving in, displacing the Irish who had built the first 2 railroad tracks.

The Gilberties fell in love with the area, and found work building the railroad’s second 2 tracks.

Antonio and Alessandro wrote their 3 brothers — Samuel, Michael and Julius — back home in Salerno that they’d found the perfect place to live. Within the next few years, the remaining brothers and their families arrived in Saugatuck.

Over the years, the Original 5 — as they’re still called — started A. Gilbertie Florist (now Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens), Weston Gardens, and many small businesses.

They and their descendants became builders, excavators and plumbers. They served in both world wars, and in town government. Gradually they spread to neighboring towns, the tri-state region, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

A Gilbertie family photograph, circa 1910.

A Gilbertie family photograph, circa 1910.

Today, Ken Gilbertie has no idea how many 2nd and 3rd cousins he has.

But he, his cousin Ginny and others would like to find tout.

They’ve organized a Gilbertie family reunion. It’s set for this Saturday (September 12) at Sherwood Island.

They’ve created a Facebook group, and are trying to get the word out in other ways. But they know there are more Gilberties out there.

If you’re a member of one of Westport’s leading families — or know someone who is — check out the “Gilbertie Family Reunion 2015” page on Facebook. Or email

Normally, a family reunion would not be “06880”-worthy.

But — since 1890 — the Gilberties have been much more than a normal family.

Antonio and Marie Gilbertie with granddaughter Celeste, around 1940.

Antonio and Marie Gilbertie with granddaughter Celeste, around 1940.

Remembering Joyce Clarke

Joyce Clarke — one of Westport’s most remarkable, and most unsung women — died Sunday. She was 103 years old. Her funeral is this Friday (September 4), 11 a.m. at the Saugatuck Congregational Church.

Last winter, I had the great fortune to interview her. Here is that story.


When Joyce Clarke was growing up, few jobs were open to women. She didn’t want to teach, so she took a YMCA course to learn about secretarial duties.

She took a temporary job in a small New York City firm. “I didn’t know what they did, but they were very nice people,” she recalled last week in her warm, sunlit Saugatuck Shores home. “I learned a lot.”

What they did was public relations. Joyce was ready to live out her career as a secretary. But war intervened, and when her boss was called away, her life changed.

That would be World War II. Yes, it was a while ago. On February 11, Joyce — who went on to found a pioneering, legendary women-led PR firm — celebrates her 103rd birthday.

Joyce Clarke, in her Saugatuck Shores home.

She formed the company with Sally Dickson, a Westport woman whose family was known here for its heating and plumbing business. Starting with $500, a typewriter, telephone and 1-room office, they found a niche  — and succeeded nicely — in a very male-dominated profession.

Sally Dickson & Associates concentrated on “home ec”-style accounts. They were hired by a Fortune 500 company that became the largest American supplier of rayon; helped revive the Good Housekeeping “Seal of Approval”; created a pattern contest for Vogue that was featured in Life Magazine; wrote a book called “A Woman’s Guide to Financial Planning,” and spent 23 years managing the Ocean Spray cranberry account.

Sally Dickson & Associates had a long relationship with Good Housekeeping magazine.

Good Housekeeping trusted them with a list of over 30,000 women’s clubs across the country. The firm used that gold mine to target mailings for clients like Procter & Gamble, S&H Green Stamps and Borden.

“It was good to be a woman in that industry,” Joyce says. Her vision is gone, and she does not hear perfectly. But — 3 years past the century mark — her mind is incredibly sharp. She remembers names and dates perfectly.

She spent her career in PR because she liked “the freedom of using my mind inventively. I could decide what to do, express my ideas, and then go out and do it.”

The firm’s warm, stylish offices became a comfortable hangout for clients (including men). Account executives brought their daughters to talk to the female founders.

The only discrimination Joyce and Sally faced was from a banker, who said he was not in business to finance “young women.”

Sally Dickson & Associates grew to a staff of 30. Most were female. In 1971 the firm was sold to Donald Creamer. The women continued working, retiring in 1980.

On TV, women served men in the “Mad Men” era. But Joyce Clarke and Sally Dickson stood on their own feet.

“In the ‘Mad Men’ era, Joyce and Sally found a way to put females in the forefront,” says Matthew Cookson, founder of his own PR firm who also teaches about the history of the profession.

“That’s important, because the majority of consumers were women. She was excellent at networking, personal relationships, and partnering with clients over the long term.”

Westporter Kim Shaw interned at the firm Joyce founded. “She retired years earlier,” Kim recalls. “But the mere mention of her name commanded such enthusiasm and respect. She was a trailblazer among trailblazers.”

Near the end of their career, Joyce and Sally bought several lots on Saugatuck Shores. On one, they built a home. Sally died in 1999, at 86. Joyce still lives there.

Buying those waterfront properties was “a very good investment,” Joyce laughs knowingly.

The Silver Anvil is one of the highest honors in the public relations industry.

She regrets very few things. (One is selling her New York City co-op.) She is proud of her work, as a professional as well as a woman. (In 1945 the firm earned one of the first prestigious Silver Anvil awards ever, from the precursor of the Public Relations Society of America.)

“Being women worked for us, not against us,” Joyce says. ” We weren’t the greatest agency in the world, but we were successful enough to be hired!”

In the 21st century, Americans marvel at the long-ago, male-centric world portrayed in “Mad Men.”

But in real live New York — starting 2 decades earlier — Joyce Clarke and Sally Dickson were quietly, determinedly and very effectively proving that women could play that game, too.

On February 11, Joyce turns 103. She’s still going strong.